New data has found that the overuse of short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) relievers for asthma in the UK is responsible for 250,000 tones of greenhouse gas emissions – or CO2 – annually.

The findings, which will be presented at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting, also found that 83% of all SABA relievers for asthma are prescribed to patients who are potentially overusing their reliever medication.

The new analysis is based on SABA prescription and data taken from the UK study in the SABINA global programme of large-scale observational studies, collected between 2007-2017.

The SABINA study is a real-world data analysis of clinical outcomes related to SABA use and maintenance therapy in asthma, consisting of a framework of large-scale observational studies across 40 countries.

Further results from this analysis also showed that SABA inhaler use causes 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions from inhaler devices in the UK.

“Overuse of reliever inhalers in asthma is widespread in the UK and associated with an increased risk of exacerbations for patients, highlighting the importance of adopting strategies to improve disease control and reduce SABA overuse,” said Alexander Wilkinson, lead author of the study.

“This new analysis shows that reliever overuse is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in respiratory care, similar to driving an average diesel car for about 900 million miles.

“These findings are important for informing clinical guidelines and healthcare policies to support improvements in asthma care while also realising carbon savings,” he added.